Video courtesy of WCTV, Rachel Pellegrino
Lena Galing is a proud mother of 15.
Fifteen alpacas, that is. But, what’s an alpaca?
Commonly mistaken for llamas, alpacas are distinguishable by two characteristics: their pointy ears and slim bodies. In Galing’s case, they’re also distinguishable by their names.
Glitter Lilly and Social Light are just two of the 15 alpacas on Galing’s farm: Lippencott Alpacas.
“Girls, girls,” Galing’s cheerful spirited voice calls. Just moments later, a herd of alpacas is running over. Galing is smiling.
Galing, 71, is a fourth generation farmer, but she never thought she would be the co-owner of Greene County’s only alpaca-breeding farm.
Needless to say, everything in her life is an adventure.
“Even when she’s nervous, she’s always really excited too,” said Becky Martinak, a close friend of Galing.
Galing’s lifelong adventures in teaching and traveling began when she was 29 years old. She left the rural life of Waynesburg and moved to Schweinfurt, Germany to teach elementary school for the Department of Defense.
Years later, the happy-go-lucky woman featured below, returned to America and traveled as a carnie, working and owning a food truck. Now, she is finally living out her true passion, back where she grew up on the family cattle farm.
For Lena Galing and her husband of 40 years Philip Galing, alpaca-breeding was unexpected.
“Never thought I’d be back, but here I am,” Lena Galing said in reference to her family’s farm.
Lena Galing’s parents, Mary and Jim Hawkins, had begun experiencing medical difficulties coupled with old age. Lena and Philip Galing returned from Germany and worked the food truck business for two years before eventually taking over the family farm.
“We wanted to continue farming but not with cattle or sheep like we used to,” Lena Galing said. “My vet asked us to think about alpacas and our first question was, ‘What’s an alpaca?’”
Lena, born and raised on the farm, and Philip Galing, a city boy with a military background, knew nothing about alpacas.
“It’s all been self-taught and self-learned over the last 30 years,” Philip Galing explained.
Despite the unknown, Lena Galing’s twin-sister, Dora Lynne Hornat, said Lena Galing, like everything else in her life, “just jumped in with both feet.”
Even though it has been a learning experience, it has been a facet of Lena Galing’s life that she has fallen in love with.
I have found my passion,” Lena Galing said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Over the past 14 years, she’s been able to continue her original passion for teaching through tours, alpaca mentorship and knitting lessons.
Whether she’s giving tours on the farm or teaching knitting lessons, Lena Galing’s warm welcoming smile and upbeat personality brings happiness to those around her.
“She’s always positive and looking on the bright side of things, and she makes you feel that way too,” Martinak said.
Lena Galing never lets anything hold her back, not even her age. She won’t let anything come between her and her love for alpacas.
“This is what I truly enjoy doing,” Lena Galing said.
As Philip Galing puts it, “What’s not to love about alpacas?”